Posted on 6 February 2008 by
A committee of MPs is to examine the energy market in the UK, as criticism of recent price rises grows.
The all-party Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform (BERR) committee will investigate possible anti-competitive behaviour in the market, and whether its current structure encourages effective competition.
"The continuing controversy over energy prices is an issue that demands to be addressed," said committee chairman Peter Luff MP.
"It is a complex but vital question and one that affects everyone in the country: individual consumers and households, small businesses and major energy users alike."
In recent weeks, independent watchdog Energywatch has repeatedly questioned the extent of competition between energy suppliers.
"This is a sensible step and we hope that it will convince government to make a referral to the Competition Commission," said Energywatch campaigns director Adam Scorer.
Regulator Ofgem has said that it has no concerns about anti-competitive behaviour, reassuring the chancellor in January that "Britain’s competitive market in energy is working". However, the BERR committee said that its investigation will consider "the effectiveness of regulatory oversight of the energy market".
Responding to the announcement of the inquiry, Ofgem spokesperson Chris Lock told Charcol News: "We do monitor the market continually, especially when prices are rising as they have been.
"We feel that the market is competitive and we've already given an assurance to the government on that. There are high levels of switching and major savings to be made, particularly if you've never switched your energy supplier before.
"We would welcome the opportunity to share our analysis with the committee if they so wish."